Small axial-flow fans used for computer cooling and many other appliances feature a rotor driven by a downstream motor held by several cylindrical struts. This study focuses on the aerodynamic mechanism of rotor-strut interaction for an isolated fan. The three-dimensional, unsteady flow field is calculated using FLUENT, and the sound radiation predicted by acoustic analogy is compared with measurement data. Striking differences are found between the pressure oscillations in various parts of the structural surfaces during an interaction event. The suction surface of the blade experiences a sudden increase in pressure when the blade trailing edge sweeps past a strut, while the process of pressure decrease on the pressure side of the blade is rather gradual during the interaction. The contribution of the latter towards the total thrust force on the structure is cancelled out significantly by that on the strut. In terms of the acoustic contributions from the rotor and strut, the upstream rotor dominates and this feature differs from the usual rotor-stator interaction acoustics in which the downstream part is responsible for most of the noise. It is therefore argued that the dominant interaction mechanism is potential flow in nature.